It’s too early to declare the Arab Spring a failed revolution, Dutch arabist, author and independent advisor Petra Stienen argues. ‘Revolutions always are jerking along,’ she wrote recently, adding that she has difficulties referencing to revolutions in terms of seasons. ‘Because decades of dictatorship aren’t washed away in a spring or a summer.’
The Arab Spring, started in Tunisia in 2011, settled Stienen’s reputation as an analyst and commentator, elucidating the Arab world for Dutch television spectators. Her knowledge of the Arab political world is based on her Arabic and Middle Eastern studies at the universities of Leiden, Cairo and London and her diplomatic work in the region. Stienen worked as a human rights diplomat at the Netherlands Embassies in Egypt and Syria from 1995-2004. After she left the Foreign Ministry in 2009 she established her own business as an independent advisor and commentator in the field of democracy, diversity and diplomacy. Since June 2015 she also is a senator for Dutch liberal democrat party D66.
Stienen is the author of numerous books on the Arab world, among which Other Arab Voices. Towards a new future in the Middle East? (2012) and Dreaming of an Arab Spring. A Dutch Diplomat in the Middle East (2008). In her third book, Back to Thundermountain (2015) she returns to her hometown in the southern part of the Netherlands, where she explores the European approach to differences and diversity.
In addition to her books she contributes regularly to newspapers, magazines and websites. Petra Stienen is board member of various organisations such Masterpeace, Action for Hope and was a board member of Care International. She is an established public speaker and has won a number of prestigious awards for her work.